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A Letter to My Black Son About the NFL Protests

'Critics ignored people like your daddy, who protect a country that sees them as less than'

Published on: September 26, 2017

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Hey, baby.

You’re so carefree and full of joy; I wish it were possible for you to stay that way. But sadly, Black children aren’t granted the ability to be carefree. Many times, as I watch you smiling and laughing, tears come to my eyes. Not just because you are my whole world but also because I couldn’t raise you in a better one. You haven’t learned of the discrimination that you will face because of your identity as a Black male yet. As you run and live life, history is being made. We are in a time of turmoil on all fronts, and you will read about much of this in your textbooks.

There are people, some with privilege and some without, who think you should pay with your life for the smallest crime. Or worse, when you haven’t done anything at all. In early 2016, disgusted with the targeting and mistreatment of young Black Americans, many decided it was time to speak out. While many stood up, one athlete, in particular, decided it was time to kneel. In a few years, you will read about Colin Kaepernick. He is a fraternity man, a football player, and most importantly an activist. Ultimately, his stance on social issues cost him his career.

Right now, people are debating your right to express yourself. To be more specific, your right to protest and stand against injustice. This isn’t a new fight; it’s never ending and it resurfaces in a new way every few decades. And this time, the fight is on the football field. Kaepernick has spearheaded a movement, and many are showing support.

There are people who think you should pay with your life for the smallest crime — or none at all.

Not everyone is happy with the athletes speaking up. There are people, including our president, who believe the activism shown by the football players is not only misguided but disrespectful. Those people say it is an insult not to honor the flag and these men should be happy they have made it where they have. They believe that their actions are disrespectful to the men and women who sacrifice their lives daily to keep our nation safe.

But they forgot something. They ignored the many people, like your father, who wake up each day and protect a country that sees them as less than because of their brown skin. Your daddy is who they say the protesters are insulting, but they look away when men like him come home and get hurt. There is nothing more sacrificial than putting your life on the line for a nation that doesn’t see your right to exist, baby. Don’t ever forget that.

In your family alone, you have a daddy, four uncles, one great aunt, two great uncles, a host of cousins and four grandparents who were willing to make this sacrifice. Each day they put on that uniform, they felt safer than they would walking the streets of their own homes.

Your daddy is who they say the protesters are insulting, but they look away when men like him come home and get hurt.

Black Americans have dealt with this fear for generations, But we don’t wanna be afraid to walk our streets anymore. I’m proud of Kaepernick and everyone else who has joined the fight. It’s scary to stand up for what you know is right but the benefits will long outlive the fear. Not long ago, we fought a similar fight and were met with protest, boycotts and abuse. They said we shouldn’t do it but we knew we had to. And it changed our world forever.

Right now, we are fighting for you. You deserve to walk the streets without fear. And I will do all I can to make that happen. 

We will win this fight.

Love, your mom

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